Five Times More Jesus by Jim Adam

Posted on Thursday, August 22, 2013

    Perseverance and Rejection

    If this were an allegorical story like The Pilgrim’s Progress, Tim would be named something like Perseverance, because he perseveres in his faith, even though he has moral difficulty with the OT.  As for myself, I would be called Rejection, because I have gone beyond “moral difficulty” to rejection of not only the OT, but of Christianity as a whole because it is based on the OT.

    At no point in this book will you be asked to agree with either Tim or me.  Instead, you only need to agree that people like Tim and I exist.  We each represent a class of people who believe the OT often violates the Two Commandments of Jesus:  Love God, and Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27). 

    Part 2 of this book tries to show why people have problems with the OT, first by listing OT scriptures that critics object to, and then giving examples of how the OT has supported, and continues to support even today, violent, immoral, and irrational behavior.

    Having detailed the various objections to the OT, we’ll see in Part 3 the real problem:  that for nearly two thousand years the OT has led to division within and to rejection of Christianity.  This doesn’t make the OT wrong, but it may make the OT a liability that modern Christians can ill afford.

    Decanonize, Not Censor

    The next time Tim and I got back together, I had done my homework and I was ready!  I told Tim that Christianity (or at least progressive Christianity) needs to demonstrate moral responsibility for their Bible by removing the OT.  The result of such an act would make room for people who see hatefulness in the OT but who, unlike Tim, are unable to support Christianity so long as it supports the OT.

    “Christians should decanonize the OT,” I said.

    “Decanonize sounds like a euphemism for censorship,” Tim said.

    Luckily, there is a historical example (one that even I know about) which demonstrates what I mean by “decanonize”:  during the Reformation, protestants removed fourteen books from their Bible.  Collectively, those fourteen books are called the Apocrypha.  According to Martin Luther, the Apocrypha wasn’t equal to the rest of the Bible in authority.  Though still valuable for spiritual insight and instruction, the Apocrypha wasn’t to be used to define doctrine.

    When Luther omitted the Apocrypha from his translation of the Bible, most protestants followed suit, so that today protestants rarely use those fourteen books in sermons, Sunday School lessons, or daily meditations.  And yet, the Apocrypha was never censored, it was merely demoted by protestants (while the Catholic church kept the Apocrypha in place).  Bible study groups, seminary students, and individual Christians are still free to study the Apocrypha, but because the Apocrypha is typically separated from the rest of the Bible, protestants are reminded that those fourteen books are (for them) of secondary importance and should not be used, say, to overrule a passage from Genesis or Luke.

    What protestants did with the Apocrypha is what I think Christians should do with the entire OT.  By formally demoting the OT and having it bound separately, Christians will be placing more emphasis on the NT and, hence, on the teachings of Jesus.  They will also be removing a major thorn from Christianity’s paw.


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